In October 2000, when The Museum of Modern Art converted The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden into a staging area for the construction of the Museum’s new building, artist Mark Dion (American, b. 1961) was invited to perform a series of archaeological excavations. Beneath the garden lay the foundations of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.’s, former townhouse at 4 West 54 Street, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s, former townhouse at 10 West 54 Street, which had been torn down in 1938 to provide the land for the Museum’s permanent quarters. Dion scavenged in the garden, the adjacent brownstone buildings, and the recently demolished Dorset Hotel, salvaging a number of historical artifacts. His finds include architectural cornices, moldings, shards of ceramic, and wallpaper samples, all of which are integrated into an installation highlighting the Museum’s foundations within the new building.
Rescue Archaeology consists of a series of three fireplace mantels reclaimed from the demolished brownstones and fully restored by the artist; one interactive large-scale treasure cabinet containing cleaned relics and ephemera classified in specific drawers; a series of documentary photographs; and a functional laboratory.
Organized by Roxana Marcoci, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography.
The exhibition is supported by The Neuberger Berman Foundation, which is funded by Neuberger Berman, a Lehman Brothers Company; and by Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley.
Additional support is provided by Susan G. Jacoby, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and Jerome and Ellen Stern.